Comment author: avacyn 10 March 2018 06:28:07PM 2 points [-]

I found this article useful and convincing. Thanks for writing, Ben!

However, I was surprised to see that this has become one of the most upvoted posts of all time on the EA forum. I would expect an insightful and convincing post like this to get between 20 and 30 upvotes. I'm worried that I'm missing a more important takeaway. Can someone explain why this has been so positively received?

Comment author: avacyn 21 February 2018 08:52:48PM 3 points [-]

This post is extremely valuable - thank you! You have caused me to reexamine my views about the expected value of the far future.

What do you think are the best levers for expanding the moral circle, besides donating to SI? Is there anything else outside of conventional EAA?

Comment author: avacyn 20 February 2018 03:54:48PM 2 points [-]

Really interesting and worthwhile project!

People sometimes discuss whether poverty alleviation interventions are bad for animals because richer people eat more meat. Do you think your findings affect this discussion?

Comment author: avacyn 05 February 2018 11:00:50PM 2 points [-]

Nice! I think it could be really valuable to create “GiveWell-style” charity evaluators for other areas. ACE started this off with animal charities, but I think some of the areas you listed could be good fits, as well as others e.g. biorisk/AI charities.

You mention this in the 5th benefit, but a major upside in my mind is incentivizing the space to place greater value in effectiveness and transparency. These effects could be far reaching and hard to quantify. You might see if ACE thinks this happened with animal advocacy because of their work.

There are potentially major benefits even if you fail: - You could gain valuable insights around starting such a venture, and around the focus area. This could be valuable both to you, and to the broader movement if you can distill it into a postmortem. - Starting an ambitious venture and failing can still be valuable career capital if you can show you hit certain milestones or can take away major lessons.

In general, I think you are overweighing the possible effects on EA / GiveWell. As the project grows you can decide how much explicit association you have with EA and GiveWell.

The biggest cost seems in my mind is the opportunity cost. Differences in cause areas can be pretty huge, so if you are working on a suboptimal cause, you might have a much lower impact.

Comment author: avacyn 28 January 2018 08:03:54PM 2 points [-]

Nice! I really like the idea of EAs getting ahead by coordinating in unconventional ways.

The ideas in "Building and EA social safety net" could be indirectly encouraged by just making EA a tighter community with more close friendships. I'm pretty happy giving an EA friend a 0-interest loan, but I'd be hesitant to do that for a random EA. By e.g. organizing social events where close friendships could form, more stuff like that would happen naturally. Letting these things happen naturally also makes them harder to exploit.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 12 December 2017 12:16:32PM *  11 points [-]

That’s an awesome selection! I’m also planning to support WASR in 2018 and perhaps longer, and I’m about to donate CHF 5k from my 2018 budget (for tax reasons) to their fundraiser.

I’m particularly optimistic about the field of welfare biology because it can draw on enormous resources in terms of institutions, biology and ecology research, and scientific methodology to generate break-throughs in an area that has been greatly neglected so far. The situation may be similar to that of medicine in the early days (1800s or so) when the foundations for systematic inquiry into health had finally been laid and then just needed to be applied to generate invaluable new insights.

Surely many animals in the wild have net positive lives, but so do many humans around the world. I think it’s valuable to research how we can improve the well-being of humans who suffer – perhaps even to the point of having net negative lives, but not necessarily – and so I value the same even more for wild animals who are so much more numerous and still live under worse conditions at much higher rates.

There’s also a Sentience Politics initiative going on in Switzerland (automatic translation) that has a shot at banning factory farming in the whole country via a popular vote. I see this in the same reference class as, for example, the ban on battery cages in California, though on a smaller scale because of the lower population size. Import of factory-farmed products may be more difficult than in the case of California, though, which is a big plus for the initiative. And they’re also far short of their fundraising goals.

Comment author: avacyn 12 December 2017 06:27:00PM 8 points [-]

I think it’s valuable to research how we can improve the well-being of humans who suffer – perhaps even to the point of having net negative lives, but not necessarily

I agree with this. Just to expand a bit - wild elephants might generally have net positive lives, but there still might be worthwhile interventions, e.g. to ensures some number that would have been killed by predators instead die in their sleep. The most relevant question is not whether wild animals have net positive lives, but how much their welfare could be improved per dollar.